Thanks Doom! I'm looking forward to meeting you. I'd love to visit Plastira's Lake, it seems a highly recommended spot. But looking at the map, it looks like that's going to be one hell of a climb!
Thanks very much for the info maranx! I'll be sure to look that out! In France, I don't you could possibly get 3G unless you sign a contract for a year.
Or you could do the tour clockwise. Maybe it's not that hell of a climb then? Can you check it?
As you can see, on both routes, I have planned a couple of days cycling round the Chalcidique and Sithonia. My original idea was to warm myself up before attempting the mountainous roads into Meteora and Delphi. However, I notice on the elevation graphs produced by ridebyGPS that there are some pretty major climbs there too - so I may yet decide not to bother with this part and get straight on with my ride. This should give me more time to go to other places.
Cycling around the Sithonia leg of Chalkidiki would be a MAJOR distraction to your main tour. It is one of the most beautiful places in Greece keeping you all along the way close to the sea and the mountain with mesmerizing views of Mt.Athos . It is one of the best places to cycle in Greece, the nature is still mostly unaffected by tourism and you will constantly be tempted to leave the bicycle and go down to the golden beaches and swim in the turquoise waters. If you cycle Sithonia there is a pretty good chance you will abandon the rest of the tour.
Doom - I'll check the route tonight. I did have a quick look and it seemed very, very hard!!
You tempt me vvougiatzis! Maybe I'd better not go then - I'm supposed to meet up with my wife near Athens! Why do I have this feeling that I'm not going to want to leave Greece??
Greece's strong point - from the cyclist's point of view - is not the inhabited places but nature and the environment as a whole.
Keep this in mind and you certainly have clearer objectives along your way anywhere you cycle.
This implies that strictly planning a route does not necessarily make a perfect sense, instead every place is open for a new adventure.
Indeed. This is what attracts me to Greece. I'm not a sun-seeker - far from it; I like natural places. Along with Greece, I dream of going to Island, Norway, the Autralian Outback... Just so long as I can always get food and water, the wilder the better for me! But, apparently, food and water isn't such a problem in Greece. That's what I've been told - it's my biggest, number one worry. I don't mind wild camping - I love it in fact - but I don't want to run out of food or water!
I don't think you will run out of food or water... You're gonna pass by many towns and villages....
I just plotted a little tour around your lake Plastira! How I'd love to do it! But here are the stats: from Kardista a trip all the way round the lake and back again would be 92km with around 2500 metres total altitude gain. The max height (on the road hugging the lake) would be 1035 metres (could be higher on another road) with a very nasy max gradient of 25%! How many days would that take on a bike? Maybe two. Here's the link.
I know that those guys with road bikes could complete the tour in 2 hours. But then, they were competing. I don't know your level, but indeed it's a difficult route, even for them.
It's ok if it's not feasible. I just thought I might recommend it because many bikers do the tour just for leisure.
If the guys you're talking about can do it in two hours, then it can't be as hard as I thought. I'd love to do it. But the problem is that I'll be on a fully-loaded touring bike. In other words, I'll have 20kg of bags to lug up there with me, plus at least another 4Kg of water! If I didn't have all of that, I'd spend a day to go round. That's the problem of touring by bike.
Okay then, no worries :)
JimP wrote: a very nasy max gradient of 25%!
Thanks very much for the info i.alli.ellatha.
The site I use there is very good, it's terribly precise, but it doesn't give you the full picture. 25% may well be the steepest part, but it could be 25% for only 1 metre! I've started mapping some of my routes, as I've started doing a website (after years and years thinking about it). I noticed that on one of the rides I've put on it (when I cycled from my house to Barcelona) there was a 25% gradient. I remember the climb. It was fairly tough - but it wasn't so tough that I had to stop at any point.
In my experience, the worst sorts of climbs are the ones that go up and down and up and down and up....I had one in Italy last year that nearly killed me! There were a few like that on my Barcelona run too. I mapped one section of it yesterday - just looking at the graph made me want to gasp for air! But if you were to look at the stats, it doesn't seem much (max gradient 15%, max altitude 464 metres) - yes only 464 metres! So, yeah, these tools don't tell the whole story!
So it's looking like you guys are all for me going there. OK...so, anyone up to coming with me?!
Anyway, back to practical matters. I've been looking into how I can get Internet coverage in Greece. And like everything related to telphony, it's very complicated. I have, however, found this. Does anyone know anything about it? I can't quite determine whether or not tourists can use it, but I think they can. What I am sure about though is that if I opted for this service I'd need to get another SIM card for phoning.
Oh, by the way. I was looking back at the posts and there's one I missed. kktsol asked me if I'd like to stop off in Athens and have a look round. Yeah, I might well do that as a matter of fact. I didn't originally intend to, but I'm reckoning that quite a lot of you guys are in Athens. Maybe a few of us could meet? It'd sure be nice - but I'd need help cycling into Athens!
The problem is that you are coming when most of us will be leaving (for vacation). Contact anyway.
I think your best solution for the internet will be the internet cafes. (every town has one). Also I always get my wifi from the municipality. Outside of every one there is wifi. For the use of the municipality of course but they always leave it open (and free).
That's amazing news about the Internet! I don't suppose I can rely on this solution in the villages, but if most of the reasonable sized towns have wifi outside the town halls (I presume that's what you mean by municipality) that'll make going on the Internet easier. In France now we see a lot of cafés with free Wifi - is that the case in Greece too?
Yes, you're right about my timing. We have the same problem here too. The best time to visit Paris is in August because all the Parisians are on holiday - meaning there are a lot less cars on the roads (yay!), which by itself makes Paris a nicer place to be.
I'll have to go and see if the town halls in France leave their Wifi open to the public. Somehow I don't think they will....
In Karditsa, there's free internet at the town center for sure. More and more cafes are providing customers with free internet too. All u need is to ask the waitress for the password.
Trikala, Kozani, Thessaloniki and many big towns provide free hot spots. Just ask around at the city center.
Villages up in the mountains... I don't think so. You'd be lucky enough if there's 3G coverage...
So how do you ask the waitress that in Greek!? If I say:
Ηπάρχει ενα χοτσροτ κοντά εδώ;
Will they direct me to the nearest nudist beach - or worse!!
Talking of food, I have lived in France for too long after all, what would you say I absolutely mustn't miss? (bearing in mind I hate yoghurt and I'm not keen on goat's cheese)?
You shouldn't miss Gyro! lololololol
Seriously, strangers seem to love mousaka.
You can ask: Έχει το μαγαζί σας δωρεάν ίντερνετ; Μπορείς να μου πεις τον κωδικό;
Or if you're looking for a free hotspot:
Ξέρετε αν υπάρχει κανένα ξεκλείδωτο WiFi εδώ κοντά;
γύρος! Yes, of course. Isn't that what we call in England döner kebab?
Actually, I seem to remember seeing an article about this on the web - some American guy who lives in Greece wanting to defend the real γύρος. I'll have a hunt.
Thanks for the phrases. They could be very useful!
Ha! Found the article really quickly. It wasn't about gyros, though; it was
don't ask too much. Just eat them
The list can go for ages. Don't think JUST EAT THEM.
and doner-kempap is similar but not the same.
Believe me food is not going to be a problem. Even better is to ask what is better localy.
I read the article. MAybe we should write an article about this (without errors). Leave the experts to speak about souvlaki.
JimP wrote: Ha! Found the article really quickly. It wasn't about gyros, though; it was
Unless you are in Athens, souvlaki is called this.
Everywhere in the northern Greece, this is called Gyros me pita.
And please make sure to taste every single food kktsol listed :)
Oh! I forgot: Tzatziki. Add this to your Gyro. Preferably without ketchup and mustard.
pita giros = various meats inside, that are burned like this.
pita kalamaki (hirino/kotopoulo) = (pork meat/chicken meat) inside, first roasted like this.
Of course all these (the first mostly) are not the healthier to eat. Probably greek salad with tomatoes, cucumber and feta (greek cheese) and olive oil, or fasolada (beans from cooking pot with liquor) or gigantes (bigger beans without liquor), or gemista (emptied tomatoes, vegetable marrows, aubergines that are filled with rice and other things).
Greetings again mate :)
I don't know what the term "village" brings to your mind but I am most certain that our villages will differ a lot to the ones you passed in Italy or France.
Villages like Delphi and Arahova are tourists traps. High class people or wannabes, big cars, expensive prices, noise and traffic. These are your best bet for wifi, internet cafes etc.
The ones I call "satelites" are the ones found before and after the tourists traps. Don't expect something big, around 50 houses and a few elder locals. During the summer it gets a bit better as families from Athens and other places visit their parents houses during their work brake. There should be a cafe spot of some sort and you should be able to find (if you ask) local stuff like cheese, yogurt and honey.
As you start to descend towards the sea villages tend to grow and look more like small cities. In general you will find more stuff on villages by the sea side compared to those on the mountains.
Thanks once again for your input. I'll be sure to try everyhing on kktsol's list. I will, however, refrain from tsatsiki as it's yoghurt! I'm not a fussy eater at all - no not me! - I'll actually try anything. One of the first things I absolutely had to eat when I came to France for the first time was frogs legs and snails (the very things the English imagine as being repulsive). I was pleasantly surprised by the frogs legs - very like chicken; snails I found a bit rubbery, but the garlic sauce is delicious! But yoghurt is the one thing I just can't stomach - even the smell of it makes me feel ill. Sorry!
kktsol - I'm not really thinking about all this as in planning every aspect of my trip. When I go to a place, I like to impregnate myself as much as possible in the culture there. That means I try to find out as much about the country as I can - and that includes things like food, language, and so on. Now, I think the food part shouldn't cause me too much difficulty (apart from the yoghurt!) - but I am having a lot of trouble with your language! The words can have so many syllables, with sound combinations that I find really difficult. I actually find it harder than Russian (I lived there for a year - but I don't remember any of the language now). However, I do admit to perhaps overplanning my route. That's because I know that I'll be going through some very unpopulated areas, and I am (or was) worried about food and water in particular, and I wanted to make sure that I would be able to find both.
Right now, I'm off sick from work with a bad back (hopefully it won't stop me from cycling in July). I have to spend most of the day on my bed - which is quite depressing as you can probably imagine. So, I'm spending the time as best I can, trying to learn Greek, and find out about Greek culture. I've wanted to go to Greece for such a long time, and I want to make sure I miss nothing while I'm there.
Eaglos - you're right about how the word 'village' brings on different connotations for people from different countries. As an English guy, when I think of a village, I imagine a little place not too far from a largish town inhabitted by mostly well-off people. I see a small village centre with a pond and ducks, a little church, maybe a small shop where you can buy a newspaper and some sweets. And of course, I imagine a pub! However, I didn't really think the villages I'll be going through in Greece would be like that. I imagine them to be more like the villages I encountered in the interior of Sicily (which is, by the way, a fantastic cycling destination!)
Now, what about music? I know music and dance is very important to you guys. This morning on French radio they played a couple of songs from a Greek singer that were really beautiful. I didn't catch the name of the singer, though, although she's appartently very famous - I'll be able to find out later when I can listen to the programme again.
It was Χάρις Αλεξίου. They played extracts of Μεγάλωσα and Πως να πω. You don't need to understand a word of Greek to appreciate the beauty of these songs. Her voice is amazing!
Sicily (Σικελία) is a good bet when it comes to Greek villages.
Think small and maybe abandoned, old people and lack of noise :)
What you will hear in most villages will be traditional
stuff (κλαρίνο) and in most tourists traps you will hear crappy
greek pop or a horrible mix of gypsy/greek/turkish crap.
If you are lucky you might ride into a village fair (πανηγύρι).
Search for "κλαρίνο" or "παραδοσικά τραγούδια" on youtube to get
Load your mp3 player with quality greek songs just to be safe...
Well, I've looked for Greek music and fell on a few things on Youtube. It's good for my Greek too - there's some stuff from music shows on Greek television. I'll carry on exploring.
So, I think I'm ready now. My route's planned, my equipment is ready - although I won't be physically totally ready because I can't do any proper training due to my back being in a mess (the doctor has assured me that it'll be OK for Greece, but he's taken me off work for another week).
So, if on your travels you meet the ugly git below, you'll know it's me
I'll have those same paniers, although I'll be wearing a highly visible bright yellow cycling jersey too. You never know, you might just pass me one day!If you do, stop me - but don't offer me yoghurt, OK?!
What's up mate? I just saw your answer. When are you setting off?
I ordered an endurance road bike as well :P
Glad you sent me a PM, Doom. Can't seem to find any way on these forums of being averted when there's a new message in one of the threads. Anyway, I'm leaving on 18th - starting my tour on 19th. My back's better now, so I'm able to train. But as I said in my reply to you, it's difficult trying to train for the mountainous terrain in your beautiful country in this part of France - it's flat as hell around here!